LAKE PLACID, New York — For the U.S. bobsled, skeleton and luge teams, home ice is ready again.
Delayed two days by some unseasonably warm air, the sliding track at Mount Van Hoevenberg finally opened for training Monday with U.S. men's luge Olympian Aidan Kelly getting the first official run of the season.
"It feels good to be back on familiar, home ice," said Erin Hamilin, a bronze medalist at the Sochi Olympics and former women's luge world champion. "We hit the jackpot with weather and had a cold morning so the ice was great for a first day and held up well. Hopefully we'll stay on Mother Nature's good side for the rest of the month."
Luge and bobsledders got on the ice in the morning, with skeleton sliders getting their chance in the afternoon.
For bobsledders, the challenge will be getting back up to speed quickly. The track is scheduled to host the men's 2-man and women's bobsled national team selection races on Saturday morning.
"Every time you slide Lake Placid you get a little nervous, but it fires you up," said two-time Olympic women's bobsled medalist Elana Meyers Taylor. "I took down two rookies today so it was nice to see their reactions. I'm excited for the season and to get the rookies more and more comfortable and ready for World Cup. All the rookies handled Day One great, so if this is any indication on how things will go, we're going to have a great season."
National team races for skeleton start on Oct. 30, and for luge on Nov. 1.
Teams are expected to be able to continue training all week, weather permitting. Track workers can maintain ice even when the air temperature climbs well above freezing.
"It's still as exciting as the first year to get back on ice," said Annie O'Shea, who is hoping to grab one of two available spots on the women's skeleton World Cup team. "You get those nervous butterflies that you were missing all summer and the moment you go down the track it all comes back to you. It's one of those things that never gets old."
Some luge athletes have already been on ice this season, getting some training done earlier this month in Lillehammer, Norway.
But luge Olympian Jayson Terdiman said nothing's quite like sliding at home.
"It always feels great to be sliding in Lake Placid," Terdiman said. "The weather hasn't been optimal for the track crew to get the ice prepared, but they have done a great job getting everything ready for us."
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